Today marks the first full month of fulltiming in my motorhome in France! In one way it has gone quickly, and in another way, it feels like much longer! These are just some random thoughts on my new life so far.
I’ve lost all sense of time
As I alluded to above, time feels really weird. Because things are so different now, something that happened a week ago just feels like ages ago. When I think back to coming through the Eurotunnel a month ago, it feels like an age.
Sometimes, if I move around a lot in one or two days, those days feel more like a week.
I also have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is! I have to check my phone and my calendar every day. There’s just no point of reference anymore.
When I lived at home in the UK, I had certain regulalities, such as Karate on a Tuesday & Friday evening, seeing my Mum on a Thursday, seeing friends on the weekend etc. But now, every day is … just different!
This feels like a good thing, because I used to have this constant feeling that I was just wasting my life away – time was just endlessly passing at an ever increasing rate. Every Birthday or New Year I’d look back on the previous year and it was just a blur of sameness. Something tells me the next Birthday won’t feel like that!
This form of travel suits my personality
I’m somebody who is very easily distracted. I’m very guilty of the ‘shiny object syndrome’ and I’m constantly looking for the new thing. This kind of travel really works for that personality type as every day there is something new – new places, new scenery, new people, new things to do…
If I dislike a place it doesn’t matter because I only have to see it once. If I go on a quick walk to stretch my legs it’s interesting because I’m walking somewhere I have never been before.
It makes everything more interesting. Driving, shopping, and just every day life. It’s like my senses are being assaulted (in a good way!) by newness constantly and I love this! It’s part of what makes the time seem to go more slowly.
I’m a better driver now
I’d never driven a large vehicle before I got the motorhome. I did a lot of practicing in the UK but none of that could prepare me for the South of France with the hills, hairpin bends and narrow country roads! And I’m not even in the really hilly bit yet!
I really have to concentrate, and I also have to be super-aware of my surroundings, other drivers and pedestrians. I find that drivers here are very aggressive and hostile, there’s constant beeping, and a car wont hesitate to pull out right in front of me or drive right up my arse!
I drive pretty slow, and I always let the cars pull out / overtake / whatever! I’m much better at reading the road and know just how fast or slow I can take a particular corner. Those roads were quite scary a month ago but not any more 🙂
I’ve had to get myself out of tight spots several times, either having to turn around or simply reverse when there’s no way to turn! It’s all just part of normal life and doesn’t much bother me now hehe.
I sleep better now
I’ve always been a light sleeper and for the longest time I insisted that I couldn’t sleep unless I had absolute quiet and absolute darkness.
It’s now quite rare that I have either of those things. When you live in a house you get used to the little noises – a creaky floorboard, clanging heating pipes, next door’s dog etc. But you know when you move house you suddenly hear a million new noises because they’re strange and unfamiliar? Well that is what it’s like each time I drive somewhere new and parkup for the night.
Well, it was for the first couple of weeks. Now, it just doesn’t seem to bother me anymore. There was only one place where I needed earplugs to sleep. And that’s when the motorhome was sandwiched between a football pitch and a church. The game was being played very loudly still at 11pm, and the church bells went off every half an hour and it was incredibly loud as it was so close!
Now, I seem to sleep anywhere and even if I hear noises I just hear it and fall asleep anyway. I do still get up for a wee every night but that’s just my age haha!
I’m always traveling but always at home!
I think that for me, this has to be one of the biggest advantages of traveling in a vehicle as opposed to using more traditional methods such as hotels.
My motorhome is my home and in the last month I’ve become very used to it. It’s certainly not a perfect home as it seems something new breaks or goes wrong every week but it’s still home. It’s familiar and it has my creature comforts.
No matter where I go, I’m always at home, I’ve got all my stuff with me, I now have little habits such as reading on my couch in the morning and these little things are a slice of familiarity every day.
This means that I can get settled in a new place very quickly now. When I was still in the UK, I took a few camping trips to test things out and I remember feeling very unsettled because I was in a new place and the motorhome did not yet feel like home. Now it does 🙂
This way of life is super cheap!
I am recording all of my expenses and I will post breakdowns at the end of each calendar month. But basically I can get by on around £600 a month assuming I’m not paying out for things like repairs.
This is a fraction of what I needed back in the UK when I was paying rent, council tax, bills, and everything else. It works out around £1,000 a month less than my expenses in the UK!
If you have a way of earning a living on the road, it’s certainly a cheap way of life.
I couldn’t do this without the Internet
I run an online business so of course I need the Internet for work, but setting that aside, I am now finding that the Internet is absolutely essential for everyday life.
I use it to research and plan every parkup, every place I will go, my route for every drive, everything I will visit, where every shop is. Many people would say that the fun of traveling is to just go and explore without a plan and see what you find but that simply does not suit my personality.
It also keeps me connected with other people and this is huge for me. One downside to this life is that it’s lonely! Although I do meet quite a lot of other motorhomers, I’d say 90% of those I’ve met so far have been retired couples, and I tend to relate better to people younger than me.
Being able to chat to friends on Facebook, and connect with new people also via Facebook, but mainly on my YouTube channel really helps me feel connected. If I get down because I’m lonely, I’ll hop on one of the many Facebook groups I’m part of or I’ll watch videos on YouTube of other people doing the whole vanlife thing.
There’s aspects of sticks & bricks that I miss
Back in October,shortly after making the decision to travel I wrote a post about things that I expected to miss when traveling.
I had it mostly right! The biggest thing I miss has been having a cat! I know that Flapjack is with an awesome new family now and he’s very happy so I have no regret about rehoming him but I really do miss not having any cats. I’ve had cats all my life since I was a young child and this is the first time ever I have been without animals!
I now find myself running after random French cats trying (usually unsuccessfully!) to get cuddles!
I have considered the possibility of getting a kitten but it simply would not work. The biggest problem is that there will be times when I will leave the motorhome – such as for a trip to go Snowboarding or when I just want to stay with friends in the UK for a few days when I’m visiting.
You can take animals in your vehicle if you are in it 100% of the time but I can’t guarantee that so it’s something I have to live without 🙁
I miss karate but that is made up for by the awesome hiking that I am able to do! I’m actually a bit behind on my blog posts and I’ve done a couple of very cool hikes over the last week which I shall post soon 🙂
Some things I got wrong. I don’t miss my car at all, or my bed! The bed on the motorhome is surprisingly comfortable though I DO miss not being able to sit up in bed! I have one of those beds that goes over the cab with just a few inches of headroom and on my next vehicle I would definitely like a proper fixed bed with decent headroom!
Not being able to hoard food is a nuisance, even more so with the constant problems that my fridge has been posing. It’s also difficult to live with restricted electricity and Internet but I manage. I think learning to live with less resources is actually a good thing.
The toilet sucks!
Yeah I have to say, the worst part of the motorhome life for me is the toilet, and specifically having to do a number 2!
Don’t get me wrong – I’m very thankful that I have my own toilet! I do not get on well with public toilets and I wouldn’t enjoy using the ‘bucket and bag-it’ method that many van dwellers have to rely on!
Emptying the cassette is fine – I wear disposable gloves, the unit is fully self contained and I’ve never had a problem with it. The thing I don’t like is the very small hole to aim into (uhuh!), and the lack of a real flush! It’s just a very weak rinse and I’ll leave it to your imagination to understand the ramifications that these two issues present!
So, did I make the right decision?
This is the question I have been asked the most by my friends and family over the last few weeks. The answer is undoubtedly YES!
I feel as though I haven’t really started yet. I’ve not moved very far as I am still staying close to the town of Cahors because I am waiting for a part for my fridge to come in stock. I’ve also had a lot of bad weather and on those days I just work.
But despite those things when I look back on my blog, my photos, my videos it’s hard to believe how much I’ve done in just one month without really trying! And of course, I’ve been living so cheaply at the same time!
Will I do this forever? No, I highly doubt it. Will I come back to the UK? Urgh, I hope not 🙂 I’d need a very good reason to do so, and the only one I can think of right now would be a hot blonde one lol! 😉
I’d definitely like a much newer motorhome and I’m currently working my ass off trying to build my business, and save some money so I can get a better one perhaps next Spring.
I’m excited about all the places I can visit in this motorhome and generally feeling pretty happy about life 🙂
For those of you who prefer to watch than to read, I also did a video on the same subject: